The Best Places
for a Honeymoon
A honeymoon is a holiday that gives you the chance to celebrate and recuperate after a wedding with your new spouse. Whilst some couples simply choose a weekend away in a nice hotel, others plan month-long extravaganzas touring a range of countries or opt for a totally unforgettable experience to commemorate the occasion.
Planning a honeymoon can be a complicated process. This page has everything you need to get started on choosing the best place for you and your partner to travel.
The choice of amazing honeymoon destinations across Europe is vast. You’ve got everything from coastal Mediterranean countries to the dramatic landscapes of Scandinavia and unique places like Slovenia and Austria, with the option of visiting multiple locations in one trip if you have the time.
Plenty of European countries are great year-round destinations, making it a brilliant part of the world to visit on a honeymoon no matter when you’ve planned your wedding. As well as landlocked locations like Switzerland, Austria and Hungary that have plenty of brilliant cities and holiday resorts to choose from, you can also enjoy places like the Croatian islands, the southern coast of Italy and the Norwegian fjords.
Europe is one of the best places for a honeymoon because of the diversity in destinations on offer, with plenty of options for budget travellers as well as those looking for luxury.
If you’ve looking for a country that has diversity in the honeymoon destinations it has on offer, the Americas certainly deliver. In the north you have places like snowy Alaska and Quebec, on the coast there’s Hawaii, Florida and Los Angeles, and in the south you’ve got countries like Peru and Argentina.
Locations in the United States offer everything from city breaks to ultimate beach getaways, whilst honeymoons in Canada are more suited to couples who enjoy outdoor pursuits when they’re away. In South America, you can enjoy learning about new cultures and experience warm climates and colourful atmospheres, whilst island destinations in Central America offer a great alternative to traditional Mediternane beach vacations.
If a safari in the desert is at the top of your list of honeymoon destination ideas then Africa is a wonderful place to visit. Romance and adventure are both high on the agenda, as you can spot animals and explore the landscape during the day and then camp out under incredible night skies with your new spouse in the evenings.
Africa is also home to destinations like South Africa, Morocco, Egypt and Madagascar that offer totally unique honeymoon experiences and are a great option for those looking for something a little bit different. Africa is a great part of the world to visit if you’re getting married in the winter and want a holiday that is full of sunshine, as plenty of countries see hot weather almost all year round.
If you and your other half are particularly keen on getting out and about when you spend time together, an adventurous honeymoon might be right up your street. Classic examples of this kind of trip include sailing expeditions in places like Greece or Croatia, or a road trip around Australia or even New Zealand.
Safari holidays in Africa are very popular with those seeking an adventurous honeymoon, or you can opt for a more exotic adventure and visit somewhere like India, Turkey or Egypt. If historical and cultural sightseeing is more up your street, spending your honeymoon somewhere like Vietnam, China or even Bali will offer a range of different opportunities to visit significant sites and learn more about new parts of the world.
Of course, some couples just want to use their honeymoon as an opportunity to enjoy a holiday that they’ve never been on before, or wish to reject traditional ideas in favour of something quirky and unique. There are plenty of different options out there if this sounds like your cup of tea, from spending your time volunteering in animal shelters to taking road trips between foreign cities and chartering a yacht to explore an undiscovered coastline.
Some of the best honeymoon locations for those looking for an experience out of the ordinary include places like Egypt, Morocco, Oman, Japan or Vietnam that all offer a very different look into a country’s culture. Or you can enjoy trips to off-the-beaten-path locations like Roatán, Slovenia, Malaysia and Georgia for a honeymoon that all your friends will be asking you about for hours when you return.
There’s no better way to start a new year than the adventure that is a honeymoon with your new spouse. January is a great time to plan a honeymoon to a country in the southern hemisphere if you’re looking for warm weather, with holiday resorts in the Caribbean being particularly popular choices for trips at this time of the year.
However, if you’re looking for a very snowy experience then January is also a good time to visit honeymoon destinations such as Norway, Iceland and Canada. Be wary of uncomfortably chilly temperatures and limited hours of daylight if you are travelling to this part of the world, but get ready for beautifully chilled landscapes and romantic walks in the snow.
For more honeymoon inspiration, check out our post on The Best Honeymoon Destinations in January.
February is often thought of as the most romantic month of the year, making it an ideal time for a honeymoon. Despite the cold weather across a lot of classic honeymoon destinations in places like Europe or North America, many couples still go away at this time of the year.
The weather in February is ideal for places in Asia for a warm honeymoon outside of the rainy season, and it’s a good time to visit the Dominican Republic if you fancy a trip to the Caribbean but don’t want to get caught in a hurricane. Australia and New Zealand are both still enjoying their summer season if a tropical climate is not to your liking, with ideal weather for active holidays exploring the country.
For more honeymoon inspiration, check out our post on The Best Honeymoon Destinations in February.
April is an incredibly popular month for weddings, which also means that it’s one of the most popular times of the year for a honeymoon. With warm and dry weather across many popular destinations, the world is your oyster when you’re choosing a honeymoon destination in April.
If you’re looking for some sunshine then the Greek islands, Turkey or anywhere in the Caribbean are all excellent choices for beach holidays. It’s also a great time to visit locations in Europe like Cornwall, Paris, Berlin and Rome to avoid the summer crowds and enjoy very pleasant weather that is great for long days of sightseeing.
For more honeymoon inspiration, check out our post on The Best Honeymoon Destinations in April.
One of the best times of the year to plan a honeymoon is May, where you can enjoy good weather almost anywhere you decide to visit. This month is also part of the ‘shoulder’ season for tourism in most countries, so you’ll be able to enjoy lower prices as well as far fewer crowds of other travellers in numerous popular destinations.
Few honeymoon destinations aren’t strongly recommended in May; it’s warm and sunny in Europe, it’s the dry season in South America, and most tropical holiday resorts aren’t yet heaving with tourists on their summer holidays. Countries in the south of Africa also have excellent weather this time of year, and although the Monsoon season is beginning in some Asian locations, if you travel at the start of the month you’re unlikely to get caught in any serious storms.
For more honeymoon inspiration, check out our post on The Best Honeymoon Destinations in May.
Not only is June one of the most popular times of the year to get married, it’s also one of the busiest months for travel. Many couples choose this time of year to go on their honeymoon so they can make the most of good weather, and although some destinations may start to get overcrowded in June, there are still plenty of exceptional places you can visit.
This is one of the best months of the year to enjoy a beach holiday, and there are plenty of amazing honeymoon destinations out there that perfectly cater to this kind of experience, such as Turkey, Mauritius, Seychelles and the Bahamas. European destinations are also a top choice at this time of year, from the glamorous Amalfi Coast to historic Croatia and wildly beautiful Scotland.
For more honeymoon inspiration, check out our post on The Best Honeymoon Destinations in June.
From the stunning landscapes of European countries to classic tropical archipelagos and unusual cultural cities, the range of different places to visit on your honeymoon in August is vast. It’s a busy time of the year for travel and weddings, but the upside is that you’ll find wonderfully warm weather across most of the northern hemisphere in some of the most popular honeymoon destinations.
Beach honeymoons in August are an excellent idea if you’re after scorching temperatures that never drop below 20°C, with destinations like Portugal, Mauritius and Corsica coming highly recommended. You’ve got the smallest chance of rain when visiting locations like Cornwall, the Cotswolds and the Lake District in the UK, whilst Asia is usually best avoided at this time of year because of the rain.
For more honeymoon inspiration, check out our post on The Best Honeymoon Destinations in August.
September is a great time of year to go on our honeymoon if you’re looking to make the most of off-season travel deals. Many popular destinations are still enjoying the good weather that makes them so crowded over the summer but will be much quieter, so it’s a brilliant time to visit cities like Rome, Dubrovnik, Venice, Paris, Barcelona and Athens.
If you’re after an active or adventure-packed honeymoon then September is a great time to travel, as the climate in most places is well-suited to spending full days outdoors without getting too hot. Game reserves in Africa are wonderfully lush with wildlife during the month, spring is beginning across Australia and New Zealand, and unusual locations like Slovakia or South Korea are at their best at this time of year.
For more honeymoon inspiration, check out our post on The Best Honeymoon Destinations in September.
November might not be the most popular time of the year for a honeymoon, but this is all the more reason to travel at the end of autumn if you’re a couple who prefer to visit new places outside of their tourist season. City breaks or hotel packages are a good idea at this time of year if you’re going to be staying somewhere where the weather is less than ideal and want to snap up a bargain, or you can travel further afield to somewhere that wintery weather doesn’t reach.
If sunshine is what you’re after, Florida, Egypt and Oman all come highly recommended on our list of the best honeymoon destinations in November. It’s also a great time to visit tropical islands to enjoy off-season prices in places like Costa Rica or Aruba; ideal if you’re seeking winter sunshine.
For more honeymoon inspiration, check out our post on The Best Honeymoon Destinations in November.
December is a very popular time of the year to go on holiday or a honeymoon, and many destinations tend to get quite busy in the run-up to Christmas. However, it’s a beautiful month to visit destinations that are known for their cold and snowy weather, and a lot of couples feel that there is nothing more romantic than a honeymoon somewhere surrounded by snow.
If you’re looking to escape to a winter wonderland, we recommend destinations like Iceland, Norway, the Alps and Austria where you can enjoy a skiing holiday or just cosy up in a private cabin. Alternately, you and your new spouse might be looking for the total opposite with a hot beach honeymoon, in which case places like Thailand, the Maldives and the Caribbean should be top of your list.
For more honeymoon inspiration, check out our post on The Best Honeymoon Destinations in December.
A honeymoon is one of the most important and memorable holidays of your life, and most people only do them once. You want to pick a destination that is going to match your and your partner’s interests and travel criteria perfectly, so doing your research beforehand and finding the best option is important.
There are so many different options out there for honeymooners, from luxurious relaxing breaks to unusual, exotic escapes and action-packed experiences. Wherever you decide to visit, getting to spend time with your new spouse is a wonderful opportunity, and any location you choose will be made all the better by visiting it with the one you love.
Read more about Honeymoons
Do something a little different and book an unusual holiday to a unique destination.
From the Great Migration of Tanzania in the Serengeti to the penguin camps of Gould Bay in the South Pole, the world will become your stomping ground. Here are the best places to go for travellers who like the unconventional…
Europe is everything, from fairy-tale castles, to picturesque southern beaches, hidden coves, epic history, exquisite culinary, and some of the best nightlife in the world. It’s the site of the historic roman empire, the Swiss Alps, Napoleon’s dynasty – you name it, it’s here. But don’t just go where everyone else goes. Instead, get off the bus, get out of your tourist trap town, and see what you can find.
Some good places to start include Camogli in Italy, the Loire Valley in France, and the UNESCO listed town of Berat in Albania. Or, throw it back to your student days and have a go at getting into the most elusive club on the continent: Berghain in Berlin.
The Americas are some of the most diverse collections of land in the world, literally ranging from snowy ice caps in Alaska, to volcanic islands in Hawaii, white sand beaches, colonial towns, Incan ruins and everything in-between.
Skip the Inca Trail if you want to stay away from the tourists, and head up Rainbow Mountain instead. There’re also the glacier fields of Patagonia in Argentina, or the Galapagos Islands where Charles Darwin made his historic discovery.
There is so much more to Africa than just safaris, but that doesn’t make them any more magical. Who doesn’t want to take a trip half way around the world just to hold up their slightly smaller friend and scream the Lion King songs as you watch the sunrise?*
That doesn’t mean you have to do the same safaris as everyone else though. Head around the continent to Mozambique or Tanzania, experiencing the incredible wildlife but also learning so much about the people who live there and the societies they’ve cultivated. In the land where humans first came into existence, traditions and rituals have been passed down through generations, with time-honoured ceremonies and a community spirit that welcomes anyone and everyone.
*PSA: Everyone wants to do that. Trust me, not a single person does not want to do that.
There’s no denying that January is a pretty miserable time of the year. Christmas is over, the presents are all open, you’ve probably started your New Year diet, and there’s no way any of your resolutions are still going. All in all, pretty dull time of the year. Plus, thank to Christmas and all the bank holidays, you’ve probably been trying to make your December pay last for about 7 weeks. So, yeah, January sucks and to make it worse it sucks for a ridiculously long time.
That’s why you need to get ahead of the curve, plan for your misery, and book a funky, quirky, gonna make all your mates’ jealous holiday for the middle of January. It’s the perfect time to head to Antarctica, as it’s warmer with the long days and the penguin chicks and seal pups will all be out and about on the ice. Or, why not try the Galapagos Islands, with the calmer seas and warmer weather making this the best time to visit. Kerala in Southern India is also fantastic for tiger watching during January.
The shortest month of the year, it’s easy to get side tracked, distracted, busy, and suddenly the whole month has disappeared. It’s a good time to get away though, with much of the southern hemisphere enjoying the perfect tropical weather, as well as countless festivals and street parties happening all over the world.
February is perfect for exploring countries in ways you wouldn’t have thought of before. Take India, for instance, where huge sheets of ice transform the landscape, making it the perfect spot to watch for snow leopards. Or Mexico, where you can see millions of monarch butterflies take flight in the Michoacán Province’s Oyamel forests.
There is almost nowhere that isn’t a good destination during April. It’s finally starting to warm up a bit in the northern hemisphere, the southern hemisphere hasn’t reached its coldest months yet, and tropical countries are still hovering around a manageable temperature with minimal rainfall.
It’s the best time to try something new, like taking an unusual package holiday cruise down the Amazon river, or why not check out the multitude of festivals happening in Melbourne? Think the Formula 1 Grand Prix, Fashion Festival, Food & Drink Festival, and the world’s third-largest comedy festival. Doesn’t quite beat the water fight festivals happening in Thailand during Songkran, but it’s close.
Considering the month is named after the Greek goddess of fertility, it’s no wonder May is the perfect month for travelling: everything is new, and fresh, and reborn following the harsh winters – at least, in the northern hemisphere. Even the depths of Russia can be enjoyable during this spring month, with longer days and the White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg making the chilly weather worth it.
If you don’t fancy freezing though, there are plenty of funky things to try out in the warmer parts of the world. Such as, the start of the Komodo dragon mating season on the Indonesian isle of Komodo, which sees rival males face off and fight. Definitely not something you’ll see on the beaches at Benidorm.
The perfect time to get away from work, your day to day life, and just explore. It’s halfway through the year, the Wednesday hump day of months – you’ll be lying if you said you didn’t need even a little bit of a break. Plus, it’s pretty good weather for a lot of the world, without the hefty summer prices that you might find on unusual package holidays during the school summer holidays.
Explore the world’s oldest Christian country, Armenia, or watch the turtles hatching along Borneo’s beaches. Thanks to the dry season, June is also prime time to head on safari, and witness mountain gorillas and lions in their natural habitats.
August is peak travel season, no matter where you are in the world. And there’s a reason for that: everywhere is amazing during August. If you want good weather and culture, head to Europe. If you want fantastic wildlife, head on a safari in Africa. If you want a road trip with tonnes of weird and whacky festivals, head to the US. The possibilities are endless.
The ideal places to head during August if you’re looking for an unusual holiday, however, would be Victoria Falls or Iguazu Falls, where the months of little rain will have provided fantastic views. There’s also the migratory crossing of over 1.5 million wildebeest on the Mara River in Kenya, or the volcanic tours around Iceland where travellers can get up close and personal with the bubbling volcanic craters and lava flumes.
Whether you’re a culture junkie, a nature lover, or a beach worshipper, September offers something for everyone. There’s the mid-Autumn festival in China, the dry season in Southern Africa perfect for safaris, and prime bird watching time in Madagascar.
Take in the history with an unusual holiday along the Silk Road, where September is the perfect time no matter which section of the road you’re travelling along: it’s not too hot for the deserts of Turkmenistan, not too cold in the Kyrgyzstan mountains, and not too crowded along the main hotspots. As Goldilocks would say, it’s just right.
Just before Christmas, the end of the year can feel like a bit of a drag. It’s also quite an expensive month (Christmas presents, duh), and the sudden lack of sunlight thanks to the clocks going back is enough to make anyone feel a little bit blue. That’s why it’s the perfect time for a bit of self-care practise, and what better way to look after yourself than with a fun, exciting, unusual holiday away?
The cooler month is perfect for a fun mountain trek (think Ethiopia, or Nepal); the monsoon season having just passed, the weather is clear enough to see for literally thousands of miles – you’ll never find a better view. It’s also the start of expedition cruise season to Antarctica now the weather’s warm enough to melt the ice and allow boats to sail through.
December can be a struggle to get away. What with Christmas, New Years’ Eve, all the bank holidays, and work closing early on, not to mention numerous Christmas parties and events, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of time left for travelling. If you can though, you should try and make time because December is one of the most magical times of the year to travel.
If you want to stick with the Christmas theme, head to Lapland for a bit of reindeer sleighing, or visit Moscow’s Red Square in time for the New Year’s fireworks.
A beach holiday doesn’t have to be a week in Ibiza or the Canary Islands for it to be amazing, there are literally thousands of other options with a fun, added twist that brings your holiday to that next level. From Madagascar’s remote northern shores, to the Havelock Island where elephants wander around at the edge of the tide, there are so many places that will turn your beach holiday into an unforgettable trip.
Some of the most unusual places come alive during the winter – and don’t forget, for a lot of the world it doesn’t actually get cold during the November to February disaster period in the UK. And even the places that do get cold can be so cool to visit (cool, get it? See what I did there?). Finland, for instance, has heated, glass igloos that let you see the night sky – including the Northern Lights.
Your honeymoon is one of the most important holidays of your life. You can say I’m wrong, and try and argue if you want, but you know, you know, it’s true. For the rest of your life, people are going to ask you: “Oh, so where did you go on your honeymoon then?” and you need to make sure you’ve got somewhere incredible to pull out of your hat, to avoid the pitying head nods.
Why not check out the Skylodge adventure suites in Peru, a honeymoon suite that’s about 1200 feet in the air? Or the Giraffe Manor in Kenya, famous for being a giraffe sanctuary and a hotel.
The classic holiday, the city break has everything you need: it’s quick, normally pretty cheap, you don’t have to take too much holiday at work, and you still get to fully immerse yourself in another culture. Of course, you have the classics like Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam etc. etc., but they can quickly get boring – especially if you’ve already been a couple times. That’s why we would recommend more niche destinations, like Perugia in Italy, or maybe Cordoba in Spain.
Unusual holidays are fun, and interesting, and they make for great dinner party conversations. There are also tonnes and tonnes of places out there that are off the beaten track and less well-known, so there’s really no excuse for sticking it out with a 4-day bender in Magaluf with the lads. You’re better than that.
Read more about unusual holidays
Roatán might be associated with being a popular cruise-ship stop, but if you get under its skin there is plenty on offer. Whether you’re a backpacker or looking for a luxury resort, the different corners of this Honduran island will deliver. If you escape the resorts and cruise stops then you’ll uncover a place packed with culture, fantastic people and stunning environments to explore.
As the largest of Honduras’ Bay Islands, Roatán has a thriving local scene and plenty of interesting activities to get stuck in with. Part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the island offers some of the best diving in the world, pristine beaches and a wealth of marine wildlife. With a coral reef fringing almost the entire circumference of the island and a mountainous interior, the island has plenty for adventurous backpackers or holidaymakers looking for a relaxing beach holiday.
What to do
Diving is one of the most popular of Roatán’s activities. People come from far and wide to explore the islands crystal clear waters in search of marine wildlife and 1000-foot coral walls. Roatán sits on the lower section of the world’s second-largest barrier reef system, called the Mesoamerican Reef. This natural wonder stretches nearly 700 miles from Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula to the Bay Islands, providing the island with a rare place for divers to see a coral reef teeming with life. The long sandy beaches make Roatán a favourite compared to its touristy island cousin of Utila. The waters surrounding the island offer plenty of interesting dive sites for both novices and experts from fascinating shipwrecks to nerve-wracking shark dives.
Other water activities which are incredibly popular including fishing, kayaking and exploring the area in a glass-bottom boat. The beaches provide the perfect place to snorkel in shallow water for those less confident in their abilities with the opportunity to see vibrant coral and a diverse selection of tropical fish. In the eastern end of Roatán, you can explore the deep mangroves on a motorised canoe and see some of the colourful wildlife of the island including endangered spiny-tailed iguanas and yellow-naped parrots.
Another popular tourist activity is to just… relax. Roatán is great for those looking to get away from it all with miles of untouched, sandy beaches that offer the perfect backdrop to read a book, have a drink or watch the sunset. Walks around Roatán will unearth glorious mountainous landscapes with lush tropical foliage and varied wildlife. A range of wildlife sanctuaries dots the area that allows you to interact with the tropical birds and endangered wildlife of the island while learning about their habitats, challenges and future.
When to visit
Like most Caribbean islands, Roátan is full of luxurious resorts and hotels that offer every accommodation you could possibly dream of, from luxury spas to jungle-themed properties.
The most luxurious places to stay tend to be found at West Bay with a mix of beachfront and hillside options. During the day this part of the island will be a flurry of activity with the arrival of enormous cruise ships, but in the evening it turns into a tropical hideaway. Ideal for families and honeymooners, West Bay provides private resorts, garden bungalows and luxury B&Bs.
The island offers some amazing diving opportunities making it popular with a younger crowd. Due to this, you’ll find hostels dotted around the coastline offering a cheaper stay for those looking to soak in all Roátan has to offer while watching their wallet. Options for backpackers tend to be found in the West End that offers a range of diverse shoestring accommodation. Properties on the main road tend to be booked by people looking for adventure and to experience the vibrant nightlife of West End.
Those looking for an off the beaten path experience can stay in Eastern Roátan, the wild and quieter side of the island. Resorts that dot along this unspoiled beachfront are few and far between, and the ones that do reside on this side of the island are private and intimate. Staying on this side of the island will have you interacting with the locals for a much more personalised experience than the busier Western side.
Although Roátan is a fairly small island in the Caribbean, you’ll still need to utilise their public transport to get around. The island has plenty of buses and taxis, making it easy for you to travel around if you don’t want to rent a car. In fact, there are about 400 taxis on the island and they’re all based on the Western side of the island due to its popularity with tourists. There are no addresses on the island so to get around by taxi you’ll need to be good with directions. You’ll likely be telling the taxi driver when to turn so make sure you have clear instructions on how to get to your accommodation, or at least know a popular landmark close by!
Within the main areas, most places are within walking distance and the surrounding beaches provide the perfect backdrop for a pleasant walk. If you’re thinking of travelling further afield, then there’s the option to hire a car. It takes roughly an hour and a half to drive from the West Bay of the island to Camp Bay Beach in the East, so if you want to go exploring the Eastern beaches away from the city then hiring a car to take the trip at your leisure is ideal.
Food & drink
As you’d expect, Roátan’s cuisine is rich in freshly caught fish from the surrounding oceans and decadent fruit such as bananas, oranges and limes, which all grow locally on the island. Typically restaurants serve western food intended for tourists, but in some hidden areas you’ll find places selling local delicacies. Lobster, shrimp and conch are always on the menu, and are usually made into stews and soups.
The most popular food in Roátan is Balaedas; homemade flour tortillas that are heated and filled with refried beans and cheese, then topped with a variety of options including shredded chicken, scrambled eggs and avocado. They’re usually sold for a very cheap price and are easily available, providing the perfect morning snack before a long day of diving.
Read more about Roatan
Brightly coloured architecture, a thriving music scene and idyllic sandy beaches; Cuba is an incredible and unique place to visit. The Caribbean country provides travellers with everything a tropical island has to offer, with a funky culture at its heart. With its classic cars and complex political history, Cuba will be like nothing you’ve ever experienced.
Although it’s had a tumultuous past, Cuba has started to open up more and more to tourists. This has allowed Cuba to thrive and offer an entirely new experience to international visitors in a country that has been closed off for most of its existence. If you’re looking for something totally new fairly unknown to tourists, then Cuba is the place for you.
What to do
Cuba is a fantastic country for travellers looking for adventure. The extensive and varied rural landscapes play host to plenty of hiking expeditions, whilst the country’s coastline offers a range of different beaches that are perfect for sunbathing or swimming. The island’s position in the Caribbean sea means that water temperatures are very pleasant all year round, so snorkelling and scuba diving are also popular coastal activities.
Central Cuba is brimming with culture that gives you plenty of activities to try in the cities, such as trying your hand at rolling a traditional Cuban cigar or taking a salsa lesson in Havana. There’s a wealth of interesting things to do in Cuba that are not to be missed, and you’ll find yourself going home wishing you’d had enough time for them all.
Music is a huge part of Cuban culture, and many people travel to the country purely for this reason. The music in Cuba is rich and varied, and everywhere you turn on this tropical island its influence can be seen, with Cubans dancing and singing on the street. Streets are filled with small music venues where you’ll find people dancing salsa and listening to rumba. They love to see participation, and if there’s one thing you do before leaving the country, it’s to get stuck in and give the salsa a whirl.
When to visit
Although Cuba is slowly rising in popularity, conventional traveller’s accommodation is not as popular here. You’ll struggle to find any hostels, and even hotels are surprisingly hard to come by.
If you’re staying in Cuba, your best bet is to stay in Casas Particulars; homes of Cuban people who rent them out and therefore provide a unique cultural experience. Just call Cubans the original Airbnb hosts. There are two types of Casa Particulars, ones with a blue sign outside and another with an orange sign. The Blue signed homes are specifically made for foreigners and the orange signed homes are for Cubans. You can get into trouble if you stay in the wrong house.
If you don’t think staying in someone else’s house is for you, you can seek out one of the hotels. The hotels are either owned by Cuban hotel chains, owned by the government or are owned by international chains. Surprisingly the international hotel chains tend not to be found in Havana or the more touristy areas, but rather on beach resorts. The Cuban hotel chains can be found usually in cities, towns and beach resorts. There are five main Cuban hotel chains which tend to be looked on more favourably by the Cuban government, but don’t tend to even come close to the standards of Casas Particulars.
Very few Cubans own cars, so the main form of getting around in the country is public transport, which seems neither tourist nor local friendly. If you’re expecting your train to be on time or for reliable public transport, you’re in for a nasty surprise.
Generally, the buses in Cuba are your safest bet. They work on a two-tier basis; Víazul for foreign passport holders which serve all the mainland cities and smaller, tourist hotspots, and the local bus service which tends to be overcrowded and without a timetable but is much cheaper.
For travel around the cities, almost every major area has a taxi. Some taxis can be fake and will prey on tourists while charging extortionate rates, usually around the airport and Old Havana. To spot legitimate taxis look for a blue license plate and ‘taxi’ sign while the one. To avoid any scams, agree on a price before getting into the taxi. If you want to travel around in one of the famous vintage Cadillacs and Ladas, expect to pay more for the privilege.
Food & drink
Unlike the stereotype of Cubans loving spicy and flavourful food, the opposite is almost true. To an extent, Cubans dislike spicy food and herbs which are hard to come by on the island.
Due to Cuba’s economic instability and embargo with the US, certain foods are hard to come by and it’s not unusual for restaurants to not be able to serve everything on the menu. This being said, the portions tend to be excessive as if to make up for this, and the food is often locally grown and fresh. It’s probably worth saying that being a vegetarian in Cuba can be difficult with meat dominating most dishes, as you’re likely to find a lot of fried pork and chicken accompanied by rice, beans and vegetables.
The best places to eat in Cubaare the paladares, which are owned by individuals rather than being government-owned restaurants. The government-owned eateries are notorious for having slow service, poor quality of food and a lack of variety. Paladares, however, are small restaurants which have been owned by Cuban locals since owning a small business became legal. The menus fluctuate greatly, as owners can have one ingredient one hour and then run out the next, forcing them to improvise. This is why many paladares have their menus written on chalkboards, rather than in a more permanent way.
As you’d expect Cuba thrives on rum. The national drink is cheap and available almost everywhere. Dark rum is served neat while the cheaper form of white rum is found mixed into cocktails. Unsurprisingly the Cuban drinking age is 16. Salud!